In 1955, a boy from Chicago was murdered in rural Mississippi. Who his killers were was an open secret — but none were found guilty of the crime.
More than 50 years later, spurred by the work of activists and reporters, a bill named for the boy would wind up in the halls of Congress. It was aimed at bringing justice to unsolved killings from the civil rights era.
Around the same time, the Department of Justice and the FBI launched an initiative tasked with investigating these types of crimes. The beginning of this effort to right wrongs in the country’s past was a moment of hope for many families. But what does justice look like in these cases, decades after the crimes?
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The multi-platform Un(re)solved project investigates the federal government’s effort to grapple with America’s legacy of racist killings, mainly against African Americans, through the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act. For more, visit: frontline.org/unresolved
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The Un(re)solved podcast is produced by FRONTLINE at WGBH and powered by PRX. Some of the interviews with family members of the next of kin were produced in collaboration with StoryCorps, a national nonprofit whose mission is to preserve and share humanity’s stories in order to build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world. The Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project at Northeastern University served as an academic advisor to the project.
The FRONTLINE Dispatch is made possible by the Abrams Foundation and by the GBH Catalyst Fund. Additional support for the FRONTLINE Dispatch comes from the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center. Support for Un(re)solved provided by PBS; the Corporation for Public Broadcasting; the Abrams Foundation; the Jonathan Logan Family Foundation; The WNET Group’s Chasing the Dream, a public media initiative that examines poverty, justice, and economic opportunity in America, with major funding by The JPB Foundation and additional funding from The Peter G. Peterson and Joan Ganz Cooney Fund; the GBH Catalyst Fund; the FRONTLINE Journalism Fund with major support from Jon and Jo Ann Hagler on behalf of the Jon L. Hagler Foundation; the Lisa and Douglas Goldman Fund; the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center; and The Barbra Streisand Foundation. Funding for FRONTLINE is provided through the support of PBS viewers and by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Major funding for FRONTLINE is provided by the Ford Foundation. Additional funding is provided by the Abrams Foundation; the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; Park Foundation; and the FRONTLINE Journalism Fund with major support from Jon and Jo Ann Hagler on behalf of the Jon L. Hagler Foundation.